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Should I start a home-based travel agency?

nhq1This overall need to travel that’s shared by average citizens and corporate denizens alike means that this is an excellent time to launch a travel services business. The travel industry is huge. Research by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) indicates that the travel and tourism industry generates $1.3 trillion in economic activity in the U.S. every year. That’s equivalent to $3.4 billion a day, $148 million an hour, $2.4 million a minute and $40,000 a second. No wonder the opportunities for aspiring travel services business owners abound.

What do travel agents do?

Travel agents can be described as a concierge service for vacationers.  Your clients will expect a variety of services to be performed by you on their behalf.  The basics, clients will need you to research and book hotels, flights and car rental for an upcoming trip.  You should also be familiar with the local modes of transportation… railroads, bus lines and car services available.  You can consider focusing on exoctic trips or vacation on a budget, either way mastering a niche in this industry will help you find more clients.  In addition to booking the travel plans, your client may want you to create and organize their daily itinerary.  Helping your clients navigate their way from airport to hotel, then hotel to special event can be invaluable to your clients.  Peace of mind is why they sought out your services.

Here are some areas travel agents focus on:

  • Family Vacations
  • Newly Wedded Couples
  • Singles events ( speed dating / church groups)
  • Retired people and snowbirds
  • Spring break
  • Specialty group tours (gay/lesbian, Christian, etc.) design a getaway designed specifically for them
  • Business travelers

Why would clients pay you for your services?

  • Believe it or not, there are still a huge amount of people who are still internet challenged or still think the internet is not a safe place.
  • Some people have trouble with sorting through all the details of planning a trip of their dreams.
  • You have people who never went on a cruise that don’t know where to begin, where to look, or what should be included.
  • Some folks are looking for a usual travel experience and depend on your expertise.

How Much money can I make?

You should be aware that it will take time to build your clientele, give yourself at least a year in business before you evaluate your income earning potential. Any travel agent expert will tell you to start out as part time until you have enough clients to sustain your desired income.

Travel agents earn their income by booking fees paid by their clients, usually $40-50 per trip.  Now there is a way to double your per trip earnings to $100 making it would be worth finding clients to handle their booking arraignments.  So let’s see, once you have a solid client foundation, you could be earning $27,000- 45,000 annually working from home.

Let me see the price tag:

Most people starting out any business will eventually ask “What’s it going to cost me?”   The same can be said when thinking about starting your own home-based or online travel agency.  Each of you will have a different cost because of variances with your personal needs and goals.  When you take a closer look at your personal goals the answer to this question becomes clearer and you’ll find out it can cost anywhere between several thousand dollars to a few hundred.  I think we all can agree in the beginning we want to keep these cost as low as possible, it is important to the success of your start-up.

Let’s look deeper:

Long ago, a new travel agent would apply to a local agency and work as an independent contractor.  The agency would allow the new agent usage of their IATA # to book with their travel suppliers.  You would be paid a commission of what your agency and their suppliers have agreed to in a contract.  It proved to be hard being hired by these agencies unless you were an experienced agent with a following. Another issue is the agency that has chosen to work with you has low commission splits.  You could earn more as a work from home agent.

Good News! It is actually possible to start for “free.” When I say “free” I didn’t factor in your time spent, phone calls made, any associated local business fees, commuting etc. . . Oh almost forgot, your blood, sweat and tears. (If you’ve started up any business before you know what I’m talking about)  But the fact remains that it is possible to become an outside agent with no “upfront fee.”

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